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Apple and Google fighting for mobile exclusivity deals

Apple and Google fighting for mobile exclusivity deals

Plants Vs Zombies 2 was given a prominent position in the Apple App Store in exchange for a two month exclusivity window on the platform.


Apple and Google are offering popular games premium placement in their app stores in order to win exclusivity for their platforms.

According to the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the matter say promotional boosts are being used to ensure that popular games are appearing on one mobile operating system before the other in an effort to win a larger user base.

Plants Vs Zombies 2 received one such deal, launching in August 2013 on iOS and featuring prominently in the Apple App Store. In exchange for this placement, EA withheld the game from Android devices until October. Cut the Rope 2 also had a similar deal in place which saw it available on iOS for three months before an Android version was released.

Whilst exclusivity deals are nothing new for console games, it is something that has been avoided with mobile games up until now. Historically, however, the pattern of a game appearing on iOS first and then Android later is less surprising as developers have previously found iOS to be a more lucrative platform.

Securing exclusivity on popular mobile games is considered to be a sign of the mobile device war stepping up. Amazon has also tried gaining exclusivity deals in the same manner for its Kindle devices which have access to a different Android app ecosystem.

‘When people love a game, and it’s not available on an alternate platform, they’ll change platforms,’ head of Kongregate Emily Greer told the Wall Street Journal. ‘The level of attachment a person has to a game can exceed almost anything.’

For mobile developers, a game gaining a featured spot in the App Store can mean the difference between financial success or failure. Apple has recently been experimenting with new ways of curating gaming content and last month unveiled the Indie Game Showcase section in an attempt to promote more titles.

What do you think of such exclusivity deals? Are they likely to sway you one way or another when it comes to choosing your mobile platform? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD’s Q1 2014 financial report shows a drop back into the red with a $20M loss, although investors seem bullish on the company’s future.


AMD’s most recent earnings report has investors impressed, with the company’s stock price rising almost 12 per cent on news of $1.4 billion in sales – despite an overall loss of $20 million for the first quarter of its financial year.

AMD’s quarterly earnings call this week announced $1.4 billion in revenue for Q1 2014, an impressive rise of 28 per cent year-on-year at a time when the global PC market is continuing to shrink – albeit slower than previously. While the quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 12 per cent might seem like bad news, that’s comparing heavier sales in the run-up to Christmas to the post-Christmas slump; a sequential dip at this time is always to be expected.

A gross profit margin of just 35 per cent, indicative of AMD’s push towards the lower end of the market in CPUs and strong competition from rival Nvidia in GPUs, led to overall operating income of $49 million for the quarter; not enough, sadly, to prevent a loss of $20 million overall. With AMD ending the last quarter on an $89 million profit, that’s a blow – although one significantly less strong than the whopping $146 million loss the company made in the same quarter last year.

AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company,‘ claimed AMD president and chief executive Rory Read during the call with press, investors and analysts. ‘Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win.

The company’s results show that the PC market slump, while slowing, is continuing to have an impact: AMD’s Computing Solutions business unit’s revenue dropped eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year, due to a drop in shipments. Its operating loss, however, was a mere $3 million; down from $7 million last quarter and a painful $39 million in the same quarter last year.

AMD’s Graphics and Visual Solutions business unit is the most interesting story, however: a 15 per cent drop in sequential shipments has been more than offset by an impressive 118 per cent increase year-on-year, attributed to the company’s deals to put semi-custom system-on-chip (SoC) processors in the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. Overall, the division made a $91 million profit for the year, down from $121 million last quarter when Microsoft and Sony purchased their console chips but up from just $16 million in the same quarter last year.

During the conference call, AMD’s Lisa Su, general manager of global business units, confirmed that the company is still in the design stages of a new semiconductor process node. ‘We are 28 [nanometre] this year, we have 20 nanometre in design, and then FinFET thereafter,‘ she claimed in response to an analyst query – suggesting that 20nm parts won’t be available in quantity until 2015 at the earliest, with the 3D FinFET transistor move – designed to compete with Intel’s Tri-Gate Transistor technology – likely to come the year after.

Su also had positive things to say about AMD’s foray into the low-power server market with Cambridge-based ARM’s IP. ‘There’s been a lot of customer interest around Seattle [chips], so certainly for the server guys, the hyper-scale guys and then even some adjacent markets, there’s good customer interest, claimed Su. ‘I’ll say the interest in the platform is quite high and it’s a major milestone for us to introduce our first 64-bit ARM chip into the market.

What we’re doing here is identifying this opportunity long before it has taken place,‘ added Read, ‘and we’re catching it just as the way it is forming. That’s the kind of innovation leadership that we really want to go after. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five years, and we have an opportunity to truly lead in this ARM server ecosystem, and take advantage of our ambidextrous capability. This is spot-on in the strategy.

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YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech’s discounts are available from now until April 25th


Starting today, our friends at YoYoTech are hosting some week-long Easter Specials, with discounts quietly being made available on a select range of Asus motherboards, graphics cards and accessories.

As bit-tech readers, you’re the first and only ones to know about it, and we’ve asked YoYoTech to provide links to the discounted products, which you’ll find below.

If any of them take your fancy, we recommend getting in there quick as stocks are limited and the deals won’t be returning once they’re exhausted.

First up we have two Asus ROG-branded Intel Z87 motherboards, the Maximus VI Hero and the mini-ITX Maximus VI Impact, both of which did enough to earn themselves awards in our reviews (here and here). You’ll find them both discounted by £20 at £128.99 and £151.99 respectively.

For AMD fans, YoYoTech is offering the Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 for £109.59 again at a £20 discount. We’ve not reviewed this new revision, but the original board was also award-winning.

Continuing the theme of £20 discounts on Asus products, YoYoTech will have the Asus GTX 760 DirectCU II OC card going for £169.99.

Finally, the Asus NFC Express will be offered at £15.99, a £7 discount. Using near field communication technology, this accessory works with specific Asus motherboards to provide instant pairing with NFC-enabled phones and tablets, which can then be used to control various functions of your desktop PC.

These deals will be ending on April 25th – will you be taking the plunge on any?

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Sony announces The Last of Us Remastered for PS4

Sony announces The Last of Us Remastered for PS4

The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4 includes revamped Full HD visuals, commentary for cinematics, and bundled DLC.


Sony has announced plans to release a remastered edition of hit PlayStation 3 title The Last of Us for the PS4, promising revamped Full HD visuals at 1080p.

Recently the subject of a film deal with Ghost House Pictures and Sam Raimi, The Last of Us follows the exploits of the player-character Joel and Ellen Page-inspired companion Ellie as they work together to survive in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by a mind-controlling fungus. Its gripping storyline has led to numerous awards, with many critics proclaiming it a must-have title for all PS3 gamers.

For those who have made the jump to the non-backwards-compatible PS4, though, Sony has promised a rerelease. Dubbed The Last of Us Remastered, the new version of the game will include higher-resolution character models, improved shadows and lighting, upgraded textures and other visual tweaks – all, developer Naughty Dog has promised, running at a targeted 60 frames per second Full HD.

As well as the improved graphics, the Remastered edition will include commentary for all cinematics from creative director and writer Neil Druckmann alongside voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson who play Joel and Ellie respectively. The PS4 rerelease will also come bundled with the Left Behind single-player expansion, the Abandoned Territories multiplayer map pack, and an as-yet unreleased map pack dubbed REclaimed Territories.

Sony has raised eyebrows with its promised pre-order bonuses, however. Those buying the game from selected retailers can receive extra Supply Points for Factions mode along with boosted abilities – increased healing and crafting speeds, increased reloading speeds and ammunition capacities – for the single-player campaign, leaving those who prefer to buy their games at the time of release at a disadvantage.

A formal launch date has yet to be announced, with Sony aiming for a summer release.

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Antec Kühler H2O 950 Review

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
£65.94
US price (as reviewed): $84.99

Of all the companies that have jumped on the all-in-one liquid cooler band wagon in the last few years, Corsair and Antec have usually been the ones to beat. Antec has ruled the roost for a while with its great software suite and awesome cooling and the Kühler H2O 920 held the top spot until Corsair’s Hydro H80i and SilverStone’s Tundra TD03 turned up.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
With the Kühler H20 920 now going end of life, its replacement, the Kühler H20 950 looks to fill its shoes. Like its predecessor, the Kühler H20 950 is a dual fan-wielding beast with a 50mm-thick radiator. However, where the Kühler H20 950 differs from pretty much any all-in-one that’s gone before it is the location of the pump. Instead of sitting on top of the waterblock, Antec has chosen to place the pump on top of the front fan bearing.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
It’s a slightly bizarre decision as the radiator is usually the one thing that you’ll have issues installing seeing as the waterblocks on all-in-one liquid coolers are usually so small. However, it shouldn’t make much difference to cooling seeing as the coolant temperature tends to equalise fairly quickly in most liquid cooling loops anyway. That said, there’s an awful lot of extra engineering that has to go into creating a radiator with two additional ports and four tubes so we’re glad to see the price remains competitive. In fact, the Kühler H20 950 is £5-10 cheaper than Corsair’s similar H80i.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The front fan sports directional blades at the rear (a lot like those on SilverStone’s Air Penetrator fans), which Antec claims focus air through the radiator. The radiator itself has moderately dense fin packing and is clearly designed to work best with two fans in a push-pull setup. The rear fan is a standard 120mm type but if you’re partial to removing the stock fans and using your own premium models, this won’t be possible with the Kühler H20 950 as the front fan and pump are essentially a single-piece design.

With no pump in tow, the waterblock is exceptionally thin. However, this didn’t mean it was particularly easy to fit. Antec employs a rather fiddly mounting bracket to deal with both AMD and Intel sockets with a variety of sprung pins being used to secure it to the motherboard. However, securing these was easier said than done; we’re not usually inclined to deduct too many points here for the simple reason that you only fit your cooler once even in a span of several years. Needless to say, if you struggle for patience, Corsair’s current coolers are less inclined to have you in fits of rage.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The centre of the waterblock illuminates depending on how toasty your CPU is. As with the Kühler H20 920, there’s a bundled application that allows you to set a user-defined, extreme or silent fan profile. Out of the box, we doubt anyone with a modern system won’t be able to use the Kühler H20 950 as its compatible with everything from LGA775 upwards on Intel motherboards plus AMD Socket AM2 upwards as well, including Socket FM2.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775, LGA115x, LGA1366, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size (mm) 120 x 159 x 50 (W x D x H)
  • Water block size (mm) approx. 70 x 70 x 26 (W x D x H)
  • Tubing length approx. 300mm
  • Fan(s) 2 x 120mm, 600-2,400RPM
  • Stated NoiseNot stated

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GlobalFoundries rumoured to be sniffing around IBM’s fabs

GlobalFoundries rumoured to be sniffing around IBM's fabs

GlobalFoundries has been named as the strongest contender in a deal to purchase IBM’s unwanted semiconductor fabrication facilities.


GlobalFoundries has been named as a possible buyer for IBM’s unwanted chip-making facilities, although a deal is not considered imminent thanks to IBM’s high asking price.

Once a subsidiary of AMD, GlobalFoundries was created in 2008 as a joint partnership btween AMD and the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC). All AMD production would continue in the fabs it once owned, but AMD would pay GlobalFoundries for the privilege. In 2012, its final financial ties were severed when its spin-off agreed terms to purchase AMD’s stake outright. Since then, AMD has continued to use GlobalFoundries thanks largely to pre-signed wafer supply agreements still in place.

IBM, meanwhile, is looking to exit the fabrication business thanks to declining interest in the company’s Power architecture for mainstream products. With its fabs sold IBM would, it is claimed, look towards service provision rather than hardware sales for its profit. The news came on the back of IBM’s sale of its low-end x86 server division to Lenovo, the Chinese technology giant which also bought the rights to IBM’s consumer PC business.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed sources ‘familiar with the matter‘, claims that talks are in progress for GlobalFoundries to buy the now-unwanted IBM plants. Another company named as a bidder for the facilities is Intel, but with the company having recently opted to abandon a fully-finished fabrication plant due to a lack of demand for its capacity, GlobalFoundries is considered to be in a stronger position.

The WSJ’s sources warn that a deal is unlikely to happen imminently, however. IBM is claimed to be looking for at least $2 billion for the facilities, while bidders including GlobalFoundries and Intel have yet to offer substantially more than half that price.

Neither GlobalFoundries nor IBM have commented publicly on the claims.

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Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
£65.94
US price (as reviewed): $84.99

Of all the companies that have jumped on the all-in-one liquid cooler band wagon in the last few years, Corsair and Antec have usually been the ones to beat. Antec has ruled the roost for a while with its great software suite and awesome cooling and the Kühler H2O 920 held the top spot until Corsair’s Hydro H80i and SilverStone’s Tundra TD03 turned up.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
With the Kühler H20 920 now going end of life, its replacement, the Kühler H20 950 looks to fill its shoes. Like its predecessor, the Kühler H20 950 is a dual fan-wielding beast with a 50mm-thick radiator. However, where the Kühler H20 950 differs from pretty much any all-in-one that’s gone before it is the location of the pump. Instead of sitting on top of the waterblock, Antec has chosen to place the pump on top of the front fan bearing.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
It’s a slightly bizarre decision as the radiator is usually the one thing that you’ll have issues installing seeing as the waterblocks on all-in-one liquid coolers are usually so small. However, it shouldn’t make much difference to cooling seeing as the coolant temperature tends to equalise fairly quickly in most liquid cooling loops anyway. That said, there’s an awful lot of extra engineering that has to go into creating a radiator with two additional ports and four tubes so we’re glad to see the price remains competitive. In fact, the Kühler H20 950 is £5-10 cheaper than Corsair’s similar H80i.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The front fan sports directional blades at the rear (a lot like those on SilverStone’s Air Penetrator fans), which Antec claims focus air through the radiator. The radiator itself has moderately dense fin packing and is clearly designed to work best with two fans in a push-pull setup. The rear fan is a standard 120mm type but if you’re partial to removing the stock fans and using your own premium models, this won’t be possible with the Kühler H20 950 as the front fan and pump are essentially a single-piece design.

With no pump in tow, the waterblock is exceptionally thin. However, this didn’t mean it was particularly easy to fit. Antec employs a rather fiddly mounting bracket to deal with both AMD and Intel sockets with a variety of sprung pins being used to secure it to the motherboard. However, securing these was easier said than done; we’re not usually inclined to deduct too many points here for the simple reason that you only fit your cooler once even in a span of several years. Needless to say, if you struggle for patience, Corsair’s current coolers are less inclined to have you in fits of rage.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The centre of the waterblock illuminates depending on how toasty your CPU is. As with the Kühler H20 920, there’s a bundled application that allows you to set a user-defined, extreme or silent fan profile. Out of the box, we doubt anyone with a modern system won’t be able to use the Kühler H20 950 as its compatible with everything from LGA775 upwards on Intel motherboards plus AMD Socket AM2 upwards as well, including Socket FM2.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775, LGA115x, LGA1366, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size (mm) 120 x 159 x 50 (W x D x H)
  • Water block size (mm) approx. 70 x 70 x 26 (W x D x H)
  • Tubing length approx. 300mm
  • Fan(s) 2 x 120mm, 600-2,400RPM
  • Stated NoiseNot stated

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Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel has announced the formation of a Smart Device Innovation Centre in Shenzen, back by a $100 million Intel Capital fund, alongside the release of an IoT gateway product line.


Intel is continuing its push into the it’ll-take-off-any-day-now-honest wearable computing market with a major investment in China, founding a Smart Device Innovation Centre backed by a $100 million fund from Intel Capital.

That Intel is focusing heavily on low-power embedded systems for wearable computing is no secret. Having been caught on the hop with the mobile computing boom, allowing Cambridge-based rival ARM to gain an overwhelming majority market share, the company is adamant it won’t make the same msitake twice. In September last year, Intel Capital invested in Recon Instruments, Intel proper recently picked up Basis Science, and the Quark processor and Edison computer-on-module are clearly designed for low-power ultra-compact computing.

Now, chief executive Brian Krzanich has announced a new plan to push its low-power and wearable computing efforts still further with a little help from Shenzen. Announced at the company’s Chinese Developer Forum today, a new deal will see the company establish the Intel Smart Device Centre in Shenzen and introduce a $100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund to encourage the use of Intel products in future low-power devices.

The China technology ecosystem will be instrumental in the transformation of computing, claimed Krzanich in his speech. ‘To help drive global innovation, Intel will stay focused on delivering leadership products and technologies that not only allow our partners to rapidly innovate, but also deliver on the promise that “if it computes, it does it best with Intel” – from the edge device to the cloud, and everything in between.

Krzanich also announced the launch of the awkwardly-named Intel Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things, a router based on Intel’s Quark and Atom chips for connecting low-power wearable and embedded sensors to a network, and demonstrated for the first time his company’s SoFIA integrated mobile system-on-chip design, an all-in-one chip for smartphones and tablets with which Intel hopes to challenge ARM’s dominance.

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AMD partners with Mentor on embedded Linux

AMD partners with Mentor on embedded Linux

AMD is hoping to encourage adoption of its G-series and R-series embedded chips with a partnership on a commercially-supported embedded Linux with Mentor Graphics.


AMD has confirmed that it will continue to target the low-power embedded computing market, announcing a multi-year partnership with Mentor Graphics to ensure high-quality support for AMD’s upcoming accelerator processing units (APUs).

The deal will see Mentor Graphics, which produces its own Mentor Embedded Linux distribution and boasts full Yocto Project compatibility for embedded development, work to create a standardised development toolchain with updated board support packages (BSPs) for the upcoming AMD Embedded G-Series Steppe Eagle system-on-chip and AMD Embedded R-Series Bald Eagle APU and CPU products.

Naturally, Mentor is looking to profit from the deal by charging developers for use of the Mentor Embedded Linux distribution, toolchain and support; the company has, however, pledged to offer a Mentor Embedded Linux Lite platform which provides the essentials required for evaluation at no cost.

The Lite version, the company explained, will include binary images of the root file system and kernel, access to the source of all open source components – a non-negotiable requirement of their use, as it happens – and an upgrade path to the full Mentor Embedded Linux distribution. Should developers choose to upgrade, they’ll receive commercial terms for project development including the promise of bug fixes, security patches and product updates, an Eclipse-based Sourcery CodeBench integrated development environment supporting Windows and Linux hosts, and the option of customisation services for back-porting, long-term support and tailored board support packages. A free Sourcery CodeBench Lite toolchain, command-line based and unsupported, will also be made available.

For AMD, the deal is proof that the company is serious about competing with both Intel and overwhelming majority shareholder ARM in the embedded market. ‘Partnering with the largest independent embedded Linux and tools vendor in the market today is an exciting step forward as we continue to invest in the embedded market,‘ said AMD’s general manager of embedded solutions Scott Aylor. ‘We are providing the embedded development community an opportunity for choice, and this agreement with Mentor Graphics brings the embedded community an open-source platform to help tailor and expand their development.

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Predator DLC confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts

Predator DLC confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts

Guest star Predator was teased last week in an Instagram video but rumours have been confirmed by the DLC’s launch trailer.


Call of Duty: Ghosts is soon to include Predator from the film of the same name as of a new piece of downloadable content launching this week.

The new DLC pack, Devastation, will feature an appearance by the methodical alien hunter in a jungle-based multiplayer map set in a ruined Mayan temple. The Predator’s inclusion was first teased by developer Infinity Ward last week over Instagram.

Predator’s cameo is only a small part of the Devastation pack which will also include four new multiplayer maps and part two of the four-player co-op story mode Extinction. The second part is called Mayday and will include a gargantuan Kraken for players to fight against.

A new small machine gun, the Ripper, will also be introduced to the game which Ghosts season pass holders already got their hands on earlier in March.

Devastation launches on April 3 on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The DLC is currently part of an exclusivity deal with Microsoft and it is unclear when the time limit on this expires, allowing release on other platforms.

Call of Duty: Ghosts launched in November 2013 and was one of the launch titles for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Hype building up to the game’s release often focused around Infinity Ward’s decision to finally put female playable characters into the multiplayer and the inclusion of a dog in the single player campaign. Ghosts was generally well received critically bu with a few comments that the single player was tedious and derivative.

At present, Ghosts has seen its first piece of DLC, Onslaught, which was released in January. After Devastation, a further two DLC packs are planned for the title.

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